Do not tell me how piano lesson is to go. Is very well, young one, that you like to play the Schumann or the Schubert I give you, more than the Haydn or the Scarlatti, but you must play them all. We do not know what you will be. Oh, could be that I guess, but is often wrong. No matter. When day comes, you will decide, foolish or wise.
I want to be who? Young one, was so long ago. No use to want what cannot be. Only makes miserable. Hmm. Haydn, perhap? Oh, I see. Should want to be Chopin, or great one Mozart! Who is it you think Mozart want to be? No one? The stories I tell you! But no.
No, no, must finish piano lesson. See, on top of piano? Is your father’s money, for lesson, not for stories. No, please, no. Begin again.
You insist? Hmm.
I tell you. You tell no one.
In those days, choice was not Scarlatti or Haydn, or how to tune clavier. It was ghul or vampyr. Vampyr was fast. Ghul was slow. Slow like zombie? I do not know zombie. Between ghul and vampyr, too much differences to say. Good teacher show you both.
Who is the teachers? Is the musicians. To reveal vampyr or ghul, you sing to them. But just right. They make note, to break spell. You make right note back. They cannot move. Stop for long time, they burn. Intervals important, pitch very important, good voice not so important. You find tune that work, you teach it to others. Hide in other music, but keep, and teach.
So, Mozart. Always want to hunt the vampyr, not the ghul. Would have been so good against ghul! Poor Haydn tell him, but no. Always want to be greatest vampyr hunter in Vienna, greatest of his age. Always practice one, not other. He think his Freemasons know about vampyrs, help him, but no good. The vampyr hunt is not in him.
Is dangerous, to hunt. Beethoven’s ears, Herr Schumann’s little finger. And they were lucky. The Bachs were lucky, too–only ghuls in their country. Well, mostly. The stories I tell you! But no. For Mozart, only vampyr. And so, he hunt the vampyr, but the ghul catch him. He escape, but the fever take him. Old Haydn, he look after the son, Francis Xaver Mozart, teach him. Live a long time.
So, you study everything, but do what you do well. Dark alley is no place to make wrong guess. And do not be like Mozart. Fine composer, but always miserable to be someone else, the greatest vampyr hunter in Vienna, Antonio Salieri.
Scar on my hand? No, does not hurt now. No, young one, I am just old man. But tell no one.
And next week, you play for me the Mozart.
Bart Allen wonders which genre he’s living in. Alternate-future? Urban fantasy sitcom? In his spare time, he makes music, confections, and excuses. One week a year, he goes to an island and helps make the Viable Paradise Writers’ Workshop happen. The rest of the year, he lives in Arkansas, without any pets, a far as he can tell.
Notes from the Author:
I appreciate Dave Thompson at Podcastle for encouraging me to write this story for his flash fiction contest, and then for encouraging me to send the story out to other editors.